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Preventive care: It's free, except when it's not

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By CARLA K. JOHNSON
AP Medical Writer

CHICAGO (AP) -- Many Americans are finding out that free preventive care under the nation's health overhaul isn't always free.

Sometimes doctors are confused and charge a copayment when they shouldn't. Other times a screening test turns into treatment. An Arizona man wound up paying $1,100 after his free colonoscopy revealed a polyp, a possible warning sign for cancer. A Florida woman had to argue with hospital staff to avoid paying $700 for a mammogram.

President Barack Obama's health overhaul requires most insurance plans to pay for cancer screenings, cholesterol tests and other preventive services. Millions of patients have received such services this year.

But a few expensive surprise bills has some screening advocates worried that such experiences may undercut the law's intent of preventing more serious health problems by catching them early.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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